Meantime, down the hall in those recording studios Jimmy Page frequented you were likely to find another young musician hard at work, a bass player, pianist, organist, and arranger named John Baldwin. Like Page, he found himself booked on so many dates that he can’t recall many of them today. But you might be familiar with some of his handiwork: the string arrangement on “She’s a Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones and the full band arrangement that saved Donovan’s first attempt at recording “Sunshine Superman” from the outtakes reel. Along the way, rock and roll impresario Andrew Loog Oldham encouraged him to record and release a single of his own. And simultaneously rechristened Baldwin with the more memorable moniker John Paul Jones. Jeff Beck, Cat Stevens, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, and countless others benefited from Jones’ musical input. But he claims that by 1968 he was arranging fifty or sixty songs a month, “and it was starting to kill me.”
It was at this point that Jimmy Page had need of a bass player. And during the sessions he was book on for Donovan’s album, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, Jones approached the guitarist and asked if he would consider him for the position. Looking back, Page says he found it an easy decision. “He had a proper music training, and he had quite brilliant ideas. I jumped at the chance of getting him.”
And for his part, Jones expected the gig to provide nothing more than a needed break from the studio grind. “When I first joined the band, I didn't think it would go on for that long, two or three years perhaps, and then I'd carry on with my career as a musician and doing movie music.”
But as you know, sometimes life has other plans.